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Source: United States of America
12 September 2005

Rice Welcomes Completion of Gaza Withdrawal

Secretary praises cooperation of Israelis, Palestinians

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has welcomed the completion Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza and called for cooperation from the entire international community in efforts to restore the Palestinian economy and security forces as the Palestinians lay the foundations for a future state.

“This is an historic moment for both sides, and the commitment of both sides to a successful disengagement process has been impressive,” Rice said in a September 12 statement.

Israel withdrew its last military forces from Gaza September 12, just four weeks after officials called on residents of the 21 Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip to evacuate the territory.  This marks the first time that Israel has withdrawn settlements from land it occupied during the 1967 war.  Israel also withdrew from four settlements in the West Bank as part of the disengagement.

Rice said the withdrawal will enhance Israel’s security and allow the Palestinians to begin building the institutions necessary for a future state.  She praised the cooperation of the Israelis and Palestinians in ensuring that the process moved forward smoothly.

For additional information see The Middle East: A Vision for the Future.

Following is the text of Rice’s statement:

(begin text)

Office of the Spokesman
September 12, 2005

Statement by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice

Completion of Israeli Withdrawal From Gaza

We welcome the completion of the Israeli disengagement from Gaza.  This is an historic moment for both sides, and the commitment of both sides to a successful disengagement process has been impressive.  Israeli Prime Minister Sharon's courageous decision both will enhance Israel's security and allow the Palestinians to make progress toward building the necessary institutions for a future state.

We congratulate the Israelis and Palestinians on their effective coordination in recent months and particularly during the actual implementation of disengagement over the last four weeks.  We hope to see this cooperation continue as we move forward, working with Israelis, Palestinians, our Quartet partners, and the broader international community to revitalize the Palestinian economy, assist the Palestinian security forces to restore law and order and to fight terrorism and strive to advance the President's vision of two states living side by side in peace and security.

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